By Fr. George Welzbacher
August 31, 2008
Media bias in favor of the left, even the very far left, has been with us for a long, long time-indeed, for close to a century. A flagrant example from the early 1940's is the Warner Brothers' film Mission to Moscow, which presented Stalin and his accomplices as the champions of the world's workers and as Fascism's stalwart foes, even though it was Stalin's pact with Hitler (signed in August of 1939) that gave the green light for Hitler's attack upon Poland and with that the beginning of World War II. An even earlier and very striking example, from the onset of the 1930's, is the mendacity of New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty, whose reports from the Soviet Union earned him a Pulitzer Prize, reports representing the people of the Ukraine as happy and robust, with well-fed children playing in the streets and with the restaurants crowded with contented workers enjoying the wonders of the new socialist order while at that very moment close to ten million peasants were being starved to death in the wake of Stalin's confiscation of their harvests, all in the interests of compelling the survivors to join the socialist system of collective farms. (If you want a dramatic depiction of this mass starvation the opening chapter of Tom Rob Smith's extraordinary new novel Child Forty-four will provide you with the stuff of nightmares for years to come). And a few years later during the Spanish Civil War it would have been a bold reporter who dared to whisper that the "Republican" forces opposing Franco were failing under Stalinist control; such deviation from the party line would have been the secular equivalent of mortal sin. It was only when Nikita Khruschev, in his famous address to the Communist Party Congress in 1956 (held three years after Stalin's death), lifted the curtain on the horrors of the Stalinist regime that criticism of Stalin and of the policies he had imposed began to appear in the secular press.
Old habits die hard. During the few days that I spent recently in Wausau, Wisconsin visiting my friend Father John Zuhisdorf I was able to devote some uninterrupted hours to a careful reading of a controversial new book written by a thoughful observer of the contemporary scene who holds a doctorate in political science from Harvard University and who has dared more than once to depart from the magisterium of the liberal left. His book is well organized, scholarly in tone, and massively documented (with thirty-five pages of footnotes). The book (a top-of-the-line best-seller in the New York Times current listing) is entitled The Obama Nation. It's author is Jerome R. Corsi. After reading his book I came upon a "review" of sorts written by one Amanda Ripley. The review-a meager few lines in a short and narrow column appearing in Time magazine, issue of September the first-was obviously designed for people on the run; it appeared under the designation Skimmer. And as a postscript to the review, standing at the foot of the column, perhaps for the benefit of the reader who hadn't time to read the review itself, let alone the book, was a three-option box offering a not so wide range of recommendations: Read//Skim//Toss. Ms. Ripley's vote went to "Toss."
After reading her review I found it difficult to believe that she and I had read the same book. I will simply state that my own assessment is the reverse of hers and that I am bewildered by her dismissal of the book as "slapdash, lazy, narcissistic." Since the book's focus is not at all on Dr. Corsi himself it can scarcely be described as "narcissistic", while in its presentation of evidence that is complex and detailed and yet is lucidly organized with extensive documentation his book scarcely deserves the labels "slapdash" and "1azy," though in the tabloid format into which Time magazine has devolved an assessment of this quality comes as no surprise.
In the interests of fairness to Ms. Ripley I am reprinting her review here, unabridged. For those of you who want to form your own opinion The Obama Nation should soon be available (if it is not already so) in public libraries, and because of its best-seller status the book is on sale at significant discounts. The book's text (including preface) runs to 312 pages. For those of you who don't have time to read books of that length a sampling might focus on pages 119 through 151, with a recommended follow-up for pages 176 through 207. Let me know whether your own assessment jibes with or diverges from that of Amanda Ripley. And here is her review.
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The Obama Nation
By Jerome R. Corsi
From: Time Magazine of September 1, 2008
There is a need for a book that sees into the soul of Barack Obama, that measures the strength of his convictions and explains why he seems to be so good at telling people what they long to hear. The Obama Nation is not that book. It reads like the worst kind of blog: slapdash, lazy, narcissistic. Corsi, who weirdly refers to himself as "we" throughout, is clearly gunning to repeat the success of the 2004 hit job Unfit for Command.- Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, which he co-authored. Early sales of Obama Nation have been strong, but readers looking for new information (of the accurate and revealing kind) will be disappointed. The book begins with a summary of a YouTube video and draws heavily on insinuations culled from blogs, T.V., newspapers, and Obama's own books. Corsi apparently wrote in a mad rush, in the most literal sense; I counted eight factual errors in the first 50 pages. Obama Nation may be most useful for readers convinced Obama is secretly a radical leftist Muslim smoker; they may find the book comforting, like reading a Wikipedia entry summarizing everything they have read before.
By Amanda Ripley